Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: The Rope by Nevada Barr

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312614578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312614577

Book Description

In The Rope, the latest in Nevada Barr’s bestselling novels featuring Anna Pigeon, Nevada Barr gathers together the many strings of Anna’s past and finally reveals the story that her many fans have been long asking for. In 1995 and 35 years old, fresh off the bus from New York City and nursing a broken heart, Anna Pigeon takes a decidedly unglamorous job as a seasonal employee of the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area. On her day off, Anna goes hiking into the park never to return. Her co-workers think she’s simply moved on—her cabin is cleaned out and her things gone. But Anna herself wakes up, trapped at the bottom of a dry natural well, naked, without supplies and no clear memory of how she found herself in this situation.

As she slowly pieces together her memory, it soon becomes clear that someone has trapped her there, in an inescapable prison, and no one knows that she is even missing. Plunged into a landscape and a plot she is unfit and untrained to handle, Anna Pigeon must muster the courage, determination and will to live that she didn’t even know she still possessed to survive, outwit and triumph.

For those legions of readers who have been entranced over the years by Park Ranger Anna Pigeon’s strength and determination and those who are new to Nevada Barr’s captivating, compelling novels, this is where it all starts.

About The Author

Nevada was born in the small western town of Yerington, Nevada and raised on a mountain airport in the Sierras. Both her parents were pilots and mechanics and her sister, Molly, continued the tradition by becoming a pilot for USAir.

Pushed out of the nest, Nevada fell into the theatre, receiving her BA in speech and drama and her MFA in Acting before making the pilgrimage to New York City, then Minneapolis, MN. For eighteen years she worked on stage, in commercials, industrial training films and did voice-overs for radio. During this time she became interested in the environmental movement and began working in the National Parks during the summers -- Isle Royale in Michigan, Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and then on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.

Woven throughout these seemingly disparate careers was the written word. Nevada wrote and presented campfire stories, taught storytelling and was a travel writer and restaurant critic. Her first novel, Bitterweet was published in 1983. The Anna Pigeon series, featuring a female park ranger as the protagonist, started when she married her love of writing with her love of the wilderness, the summer she worked in west Texas. The first book, Track of the Cat, was brought to light in 1993 and won both the Agatha and Anthony awards for best first mystery. The series was well received and A Superior Death, loosely based on Nevada's experiences as a boat patrol ranger on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, was published in 1994. In 1995 Ill Wind came out. It was set in Mesa Verde, Colorado where Nevada worked as a law enforcement ranger for two seasons.

The rest is, shall we say, HISTORY! Nevada's books and accomplishments have become numerous and the presses continue to roll, so in the interest of NOT having to update this page, books, awards, status on the New York Times Best Seller List -- and more -- will be enumerated with the relevant books else where on this website.

My Review

I've been a huge fan of Nevada Barr ever since I read Ill Wind many years ago.  That book prompted a huge desire to see Mesa Verde National Park that was finally quenched in 2005.  I love her descriptions of the national parks that just make them come alive.

This latest book, The Rope, is a prequel to the Anna Pigeon series.  It is set in the Glen Canyon Recreational Area on Lake Powell.  What a gorgeous setting. I've been to Page and Lake Powell but not extensively so I am quite thrilled to be taken there on the "first" Anna Pigeon adventure. 

The author, Nevada Barr, in this book provides us with the background of Anna's decision to join the National Park Service.  After the death of her husband Zach, Anna leaves New York City for a completely new world...working as a seasonal employee of the National Parks.  She is kidnapped and brutalized for the first third of the book.  The end result of that ordeal gives us the Anna we know.  The Anna that is a strong independent woman. 

Great book filled with action,adventure and mystery.  It was hard to put down as I was dying to know who Anna's tormentor would turn out to be.  Another winner from Nevada Barr.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Review: Foul Play at Four by Ann Purser

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover; 1 edition (December 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425243591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425243596

Book Description

Lois Meade Mystery December 6, 2011
New in the series that's "a must for British cozy fans" (Booklist). 

Lois Meade has worked through all the days of the week, turning up clues and scrubbing up messes and murderers in the village of Long Farnden. But sleuthing is rarely a spotless endeavor...

A series of robberies have begun to plague Long Farnden, and Lois's own daughter, Josie, is shaken when a thief makes off with a hundred pounds from the till in her grocery shop. But before her policeman fiancé can crack the case, someone cracks Lois's husband on the head when he interrupts a burglary in progress. Now Lois-and the besotted Inspector Cowgill-must determine who's cleaning out Long Farnden, and clean up after an increasingly violent crime spree...

About the Author


Ann Purser was born in Market Harborough in Leicestershire and has lived most of her life in villages. In addition to being a novelist, she is the mother of three, grandmother of three, and wife of critic and writer Philip Purser. She lives in England.
My Review
 Another excellent entry into the wonderful cozy series by Ann Purser.  I love these mysteries featuring our sleuth Lois Meade and her family and of course the smitten detective Inspector Cowgill.  If you have followed this series from the beginning then you have followed Lois and her family through the very entertaining years.  Josie is preparing to marry Cowgill's nephew in this latest outing. 

Ann Purser has captured the essence of a English village perfectly.  I just love to escape to Long Farnden with  Lois and her family.  And of course all the characters who work for New Brooms.  Dot Nimmo, one of the most colorful of the lot, is featured in this outing.  There are big changes afoot in the village in this novel....big changes at the Hall and with herself (if you've been following the series this doesn't sound odd to you).

There are robberies, bad guys and interesting characters galore.  Another fabulous cozy from Ann Purser, perfect to escape to a wonderful English village on a blustery afternoon.

Review: Plunder: A Faye Longchamp Mystery (Faye Longchamp Mysteries) by Mary Anna Evans

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590589319
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590589311

Book Description

Time is not on Faye Longchamp's side. She and her husband Joe are working near the mouth of the Mississippi, researching archaeological sites soon to be swamped by oil. The Deepwater Horizon disaster has morphed her run-of-the-mill contract job into a task that might swamp her fledgling company. It isn't helping that an injured babysitter has left Faye to work with a toddler underfoot.

An adolescent girl is drawn to Faye, perhaps because she idolizes the confident archaeologist. Young Amande is bright and curious, and a poverty-stricken life on a houseboat with an eccentric grandmother doesn't look like a good to get the education Amande deserves. When the girl's grandmother and her no-account uncle are murdered, her prospects worsen. With only two known relatives--neither of them much more respectable than the dead uncle--Amande seems destined for neglect or worse.

Soon, Faye and Joe find themselves among people fighting hard for Amande's pathetic inheritance: a raggedy houseboat, a few shares of stock, and a hurricane-battered island that's not even inhabitable. Pirate-era silver coins are found and disappear. Shadowing it all is the fact that there's a murderer on the loose. But why should Faye be surprised by such shady events, here in these watery lands settled by the greatest pirates of them all? And the oil slick looms, because this country is still being plundered, after all these years...

About the Author


Mary Anna Evans has degrees in physics and engineering, but her heart is in the past. Her series character, Faye Longchamp, lives the exciting life of an archaeologist, and Mary Anna envies her a little. Mary Anna's award-winning series of Faye's adventures includes Artifacts, Relics, Effigies, Findings, Floodgates, Strangers and, new in 2012, Plunder.

My Review

This is the seventh book in the Faye Longchamp series.  I have only read the first book in the series and if I had more time on my hands would have loved to have read the five between first. In actuality this book, Plunder, can be a stand alone novel but the writing style is so good that you want to read them all!

Faye is an archaeologist first and foremost.  Archaeologists are somewhat like detectives as they are following clues, examining, detecting,concluding....thus Faye is a very plausible detective.  In this latest adventure, Faye has been hired to catalogue in situ artifacts at the mouth of the Mississippi River as an oil slick approaches.  Very much a story taken straight from the headlines.

Faye along with her husband Joe and baby son and new character teenager Amande are involved with very realistic characters and situations.  Your heart will be tugged at the situation Amande has been placed in. This is a great book in a great's available in'll have time to catch up with some of the earlier books in the series before it's out!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: Artifacts (Faye Longchamp Mysteries, No. 1) by Mary Anna Evans

  • Paperback: 492 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (May 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590580796
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590580790

Book Description

 Faye Longchamp is doing something she hates, finding and selling artifacts. But she's doing it to save something she loves. Joyeuse, the plantation manor held by the women in her family ever since it was her great-great-grandmother inherited it. Faye makes a little money on the legitimate dig on a nearby island until that work is interrupted by the murder of two young members of the crew. Then bones of a much older murder are uncovered, and clues lead Faye to suspect an old friend, a long-time business partner, and a new love interest.

From the Author


I have always had a guilty passion for antebellum Southern domestic architecture, particularly in remote areas of the Deep South where traditional building materials of the time, like stone and cast iron and exotic wood, weren’t available and had to be "faked" by the use of carved cypress, handmade bricks, even mud and Spanish moss. The problem with these audacious homes is obvious: they were built by slave labor. I wanted to write a book that featured such a house—that gave it the status almost equal to that of the human characters. But how would any reader sympathize with a character who had inherited a mansion built by prisoners? Well, if the mansion was one step away from utter ruin and its owner was a descendant of the slaves that built it, maybe a reader would indeed care what happened to them. And that is how Faye and Joyeuse were born.

I did not intend Artifacts to have a strong romantic theme, so I created Joe to be the ideal sidekick for an independent woman. Kind, strong, and, yes, good-looking, but not Faye’s type. In my experience, intelligent women are attracted to intelligent men, so Joe was intended to be Faye’s true friend, but only that. Yet many people, women and men, have demanded to know why she doesn’t date him. Heck, most of them think she should marry him on the spot. I think Joe took on a life of his own as I wrote Artifacts, and every writer dreams of finding a character like that. He is more than I intended him to be. Will Faye ever notice his stellar qualities? That, my friends is another story—and another book (or two or three) entirely. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author


Mary Anna Evans has degrees in Physics and Chemical Engineering, but her heart is in the past. Her background includes stints as an environmental consultant and a youth choir director. She has also worked offshore and wrapped gifts for pay. Writing lets her indulge her passion for history, archaeology, and architecture, while giving her a great excuse for making up stories. Simply put, writing novels is fun. Mary Anna lives in Florida with her husband, three children, at least sixteen musical instruments, and a cat. Artifacts is her debut novel.

My Review

I discovered this book and this author through the 99 cent books offered by Poisoned Pen Press at Christmas.  This is the first book in the series.  I will be reading Plunder next which is the seventh.  I love history, archaeology and mysteries so this book was a real treat. I am looking forward to reading the entire series. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

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Review: Lucky in Love by Deborah Coonts

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 374 KB
  • Publisher: Forge Books (January 17, 2012)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006JJPCJ0

Product Description

Lucky O’Toole, the vice president of Customer Relations for the Babylon, one of Las Vegas’s most over-the-top strip properties, is seriously regretting booking a reality television show, The Forever Game, in the hotel’s small theater.

The four contestant-couples add their own mischief to the incendiary mix normally available in Sin City while competing for a Las Vegas wedding extravaganza. The host of The Forever Game, Trey Gold, appears interested only in keeping the spotlight on himself while the contestants run wild, sampling all Vegas has to offer and threatening to blow the whole show out of the water. Not only must Lucky keep the couples from killing each other, killing their relationships, or ending up on the front page of the Review-Journal, she has to navigate her own rocky road of love. Teddie, her live-in lover, seems ready to chase a new career as a singer, leaving Vegas . . . and Lucky . . . behind. And the Babylon’s new French chef seems determined to muddy the murky waters of love even further.

Then there’s Lucky’s mother, Mona, who never could leave well enough alone . . .

My Review

This new novella by Deborah Coonts was just released on January 17th.  This novella, Lucky in Love, fits in between books two and three.  Book three, So Damn Lucky, is being released at the end of February. The series focuses on Lucky O'Toole who is the head of Customer Relations for The Babylon, the most amazing  hotel in a city full of amazing hotels, Las Vegas.

Coonts, who resides in Las Vegas, knows Vegas! She provides the reader with a realistic and behind the scenes look at Vegas.  This novella revolves around a reality series being shot at the hotel. Just a tease of the fascinating world of Lucky and Las Vegas to hold us over for another month.

I love the take no prisoners style of writing that Deb Coonts brings to this series.  If you haven't read the earlier to books, Wanna Get Lucky and Lucky Stiff yet, this will give you a preview of this wonderful series for a great price.  It is available as a Kindle book on Amazon for $3.44.  It is more than time that you discovered this exciting and provocative new writer.

As with the earlier books, Lucky in Love, is filled with fascinating characters from her boyfriend to her parents to her coworkers as well as the newcomers in this novella.  And it all revolves around love...what is love...can real love happen in Vegas...does Lucky have love in her life?  Vegas is brought to life and by the end of the book you'll be wondering why you haven't booked your next trip there yet!  I cannot wait to read the next Lucky adventure, So Damn Lucky!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mira; Original edition (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778313387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778313380

Book Description

Michelle Sanderson may appear to be a strong, independent woman, but on the inside, she’s still the wounded girl who fled home years ago. A young army vet, Michelle returns to the quaint Blackberry Island Inn to claim her inheritance and recover from the perils of war. Instead, she finds the owner’s suite occupied by the last person she wants to see. Carly Williams and Michelle were once inseparable, until a shocking betrayal destroyed their friendship. And now Carly is implicated in the financial disaster lurking behind the inn’s cheerful veneer. Single mother Carly has weathered rumors, lies and secrets for a lifetime, and is finally starting to move forward with love and life. But if the Blackberry Island Inn goes under, Carly and her daughter will go with it. To save their livelihoods, Carly and Michelle will undertake a turbulent truce. It’ll take more than a successful season to move beyond their devastating past, but with a little luck and a beautiful summer, they may just rediscover the friendship of a lifetime. “This poignant tale of family dynamics, the jarring impact of change, and eventual acceptance and healing is sure to please Mallery’s many, devoted fans.”

About the Author


Susan Mallery is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction novels with heart and humor. Her funny and sexy family stories have been named to Booklist's Top 10 Romance Novels lists of 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Mallery's gift for writing humor and tenderness make all her books true gems. -Romantic Times

Romance novels don’t get much better than Mallery's expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling. -Booklist

From Susan's website:

Make-Ahead Berry French Toast Casserole

2012 is going to be a big year for me. In addition to putting out four brand new Fool’s Gold books plus one Fool’s Gold novella, I’m launching a new series set on fictional Blackberry Island, Washington. The first Blackberry Island novel will be BAREFOOT SEASON, which will be released on March 27. BAREFOOT SEASON is available for pre-order now. Here are a couple of places where you can pre-order it: Barefoot Season from Amazon | Barefoot Season from Barnes & Noble.

As we speak, my webmaster is hard at work on The website will have a free excerpt of the book, the bookclub discussion guide, a map of the island, pictures, a little history of the island, and lots of delicious, original blackberry recipes. (You don’t want to miss my Blackberry Chipotle Sauce, which is shockingly delicious.)

I decided to use Christmas as an excuse to come up with one more delicious blackberry recipe, though this time I mixed it up a bit with other berries, as well. I prepared the casserole on Christmas Eve and put it in the fridge. On Christmas morning, I popped it in the oven, and it cooked while we had a relaxing cup of coffee and opened presents. I thought about waiting to share it but then realized that you might like to have the recipe for a late brunch on New Year’s Day.

You'll find a printable version of this recipe at

Recipe: Make-Ahead Berry French Toast Casserole

1 loaf of French bread
8 eggs
1 C buttermilk
½ t cinnamon
1 T sugar
¼ t salt
1 3-oz package of cream cheese
1 16-oz bag of mixed berries, divided
½ C corn syrup

Cut the French bread into 1-inch chunks and place in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs through salt. Pour over the French bread and toss to coat thoroughly. Spray a 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray. Add half of the bread. Dot with half of the cream cheese and a quarter-cup of berries. Add the remaining bread and dot with the remaining cream cheese and a quarter-cup of berries. Refrigerate overnight.

Put the remaining berries and juices in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan with the corn syrup. Heat to a simmer, stirring constantly. Continue to simmer until the mixture is thickened. I did this the night before as well, so it only had to be warmed up in the morning.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the casserole for about 30 minutes, until browned on the top and firm in the center. Serve with syrup.


My Review

Barefoot Season is the first book in a new series by one of my favorite romance authors, Susan Mallery.  The new series is set on fictional Blackberry Island in the Northwest's Puget Sound.  This latest  book does not focus on romance as much as it does friendship.  The characters wrestle with very current issues such a single parenthood, the aftereffects of serving in the armed forces and the struggles of dealing with parents who have let us down.  I'm sure this is going to be a wonderful new series.

I really enjoyed the book.  Be sure to pre-order a copy and visit Susan's new website.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Review: Soup of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year by Kate McMillian and Erin Kunkel

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Weldon Owen (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616281677
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616281670

Book Description

ENDLESSLY VERSATILE, soup is perfect for any season and every occasion. What better way to capture the essence of spring than by simmering freshly shelled peas and fava beans in a fragrant broth accented by bracing mint and refreshing lemon zest? In summer, a cool gazpacho made by whirling perfectly ripe tomatoes, juicy cucumbers, and vibrant red peppers is fitting for a hot and humid day—no pot necessary! When the air turns brisk, soup nourishes and satisfies like no other dish. In autumn, white beans mingle with sturdy greens in satisfying, peasant-style pots, and starchy squashes and root vegetables blend into silky purÉes. Winter brings even more soul-warming fare, such as chilis and stews featuring sausages and other hearty meats and thick vegetable soups scented with woodsy herbs.

Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day offers a tantalizing collection of 365 soup recipes: one for each day of the year. Colorful calendars at the beginning of each chapter offer an at-a-glance view of the dishes best suited for the ingredients, occasions, and typical weather of the month. From January to December, you’ll find a seasonal soup that will satisfy any craving, and match any meal ranging from a quick weeknight supper to an elegant dinner party. A handful of the recipes are even appropriate for the holiday table, while others are perfect for using up a leftover roast or chicken. Notes accompanying each recipe offer ideas for ingredient variations, garnishes, and other helpful tips. All of the soups can be dressed up or dressed down; served in rustic earthenware mugs or on heirloom china; garnished with a flourish of fried herbs or dollop of pesto, or stripped down to the bare, tasty essentials—the possibilities are endless, but always delicious.

Full-color photographs enhance many of the recipes inside to help guide your cooking. You can start your soup-making journey at any time—just open this book, check the calendar, and you’ll be inspired to create a new soup du jour every day of the year.

About the Author


Kate McMillan is chef and owner of an eponymous catering company and an instructor at Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco. After nine years of working as an event planner and in advertising sales at Vogue, Glamour, and People magazines, Kate decided to seriously pursue her passion for food by attending the California Culinary Academy and graduated from Tante Marie Cooking School in San Francisco where she honed her culinary skills. She began taking small catering jobs while in culinary school and has since grown her business to include everything from casual dinner parties for 8 to passed hors d’oeuvres soirees for 400. Kate lives in San Francisco with her five-year-old twins Emily and Grace, who already enjoy helping in the kitchen (especially when it involves cupcake batter).
Erin Kunkel is an award-winning food and lifestyle photographer who works around the world, and calls the foggy outerlands of San Francisco home. When she’s not behind the camera, she can be found gardening, cooking and dreaming of warm water surf spots.

My Review

Another beautifully illustrated cookbook from the folks at William Sonoma. There are 365 soup recipes.  One for every day of the year.  The recipe chapters go by month with recipes featured that are perfect for that time of the year. Plenty of innovative new recipes and as well as old favorites.  My only complaint would be is that there is not enough photos.

Sample recipes:

French Onion Soup
Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
Barley and Leek Soup with Chicken Meatballs

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Prosciutto
Black Bean Soup with Meyer Lemon CrÈme FraÎche
Winter Greens Soup with Shiitakes & Poached Eggs

White Bean Soup with Sage & Olive Oil
Broccoli-Leek Soup
Fava Bean & Farfalle Soup

Artichoke & Quinoa Soup with Green Garlic
Sorrel Soup with Torn Croutons
Carrot & Coconut Soup with Curried Almonds

Egg-Lemon Soup with Fava Beans
Leek & Asparagus Vichyssoise
Weeknight Ginger Chicken Soup

Cool Honeydew-Melon Soup
Vietnamese Chicken Meatballs in Broth
Golden Beet Soup with Dilled Goat Cheese

Chilled Cucumber-Yogurt Soup with Lemon & Mint
Spicy Corn Soup

Watermelon Gazpacho
Charred Eggplant Soup with Cumin & Greek Yogurt
Smoky Red Pepper Soup

Corn & Lobster Chowder
Fennel-Leek Soup with Zucchini Carpaccio
Turkey–White Bean Chili

Acorn Squash Soup with Toasted Walnut Butter
Celery Root Soup with Caramelized Apples
Cannelini Bean, Broccolini & Bratwurst Soup

Red Cabbage & Apple Soup
Chicken-Tomatillo Soup with Chipotle Chiles
Smoked Fish Chowder

Cream of Sundried Tomato Soup with Crab
Short Rib Chili with Smoked Paprika CrÈme FraÎche
Sweet Potato Soup with Cheddar Cheese

Review: Home Baked Comfort (Williams-Sonoma): Featuring Mouthwatering Recipes and Tales of the Sweet Life with Favorites from Bakers Across the Country by Kim Laidlaw

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Weldon Owen (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616282002
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616282004

Book Description

This gorgeous new baking book contains beloved classics and contemporary treats, from passionate baker and food editor Kim Laidlaw and America’s most revered bakeries and bloggers. Stunning, full-color photographs throughout bring it all to life. A mixture of nostalgia and fun, it is directed at both experienced bakers or anyone who might be curious about baking; there’s something here for everyone.

Favorites like caramel whoopie pies, sour cherry “toaster” tarts, deep dark chocolate cupcakes stuffed with marshmallow cream and glazed with ganache, and gooey s’mores brownies will take the reader back to childhood. Modern twists on classic comfort foods such as brown butter pound cake with fresh fig compote, flaky rhubarb turnovers, and crÈme brulee with caramelized blood oranges; and old family favorites like maple pumpkin pie, brown-sugar banana bread, and chocolate crinkle cookies will entice and inspire anyone to get in the kitchen and start baking.

Featured bakeries:
Baked (Brooklyn, NY)

About the Author


Kim Laidlaw is a cookbook editor, food writer, and baker who has been in the kitchen covered in flour since she was big enough to stir the biscuit dough. She has worked in the cookbook world for over nine years and was the first blogger on KQED’s popular Bay Area Bites blog, which launched in 2005. Kim previously worked as a professional baker at La Farine French Bakery in Oakland, CA. She lives with her husband in San Francisco, CA.

 My Review

This is a gorgeous new cookbook from one of my favorite stores Williams-Sonoma.  It is well laid out and filled with gorgeous photographs of the completed baked goods.   I like the features on various bakeries like Sugar Mama's Bakeshop in Austin, Texas and the Salty Tart in Minneapolis....bakeries you would never had heard of without this book.

Who can resist recipes like chocolate-cherry buttermilk buns, peanut butter-chocolate swirls, chocolate marshmallow cream cupcakes and buttermilk pie with raspberries.

The chapters included are:


Cookies and Bars
Cakes and Cupcakes
Pie and Tarts
Custards and Souffles

It concludes with Basic Recipes and Tips and Tricks.

Gorgeous baking cookbook!  One you will definitely want to add to your cookbook library.

Review: Cooking The Books (A Corinna Chapman Mystery #6) by Kerry Greenwood

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159058984X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590589847

Book Description

Corinna Chapman, talented baker and reluctant investigator, is trying very hard to do nothing at all on her holidays. Her gorgeous Daniel is only intermittently at her side (he's roaming the streets tracking down a multi-thousand dollar corporate theft). Jason, her baking offsider, has gone off to learn how to surf. And Kylie and Goss are fulfilling their lives' ambition auditioning for a soapie. It should be a time of quiet reflection for Corinna but quiet reflection doesn't seem to suit her - she's bored.

Scenting a whiff of danger, Corinna accepts an offer from a caterer friend to do the baking for the film set of a new soap called 'Kiss the Bride'. The soapie in which Kylie and Goss have parts. Twists and turns and complications that could only happen to Corinna ensue involving, bizarrely, nursery rhymes and a tiger called Tabitha.

While on the other side of town, a young woman is being unmercifully bullied by her corporate employers - employers who spend a lot of time cooking the books.The 6th in the Corinna Chapman series.

About the Author


Kerry Greenwood is the author of thirty-eight novels and six non-fiction books. Among her many honors, Ms. Greenwood has received the Ned Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award from the Crime Writers' Association of Austrialia. Other mysteries In the Phryne Fisher series available from Poisoned Pen Press are Murder in Montparnasse, Cocaine Blues, Flying too High, Murder on the Ballarat Train, Death at Victoria Dock, Ruddy Gore, and Urn Burial. She is also the author of several books for young adults and the Delphic Women series. When she is not writing she is an advocate in Magistrates’ Courts for the Legal Aid Commission. She is not married, has no children and lives with a registered Wizard.

My Review

I had never heard of Australia mystery author Kerry Greenwood until I received the galley of Cooking the Books from Poisoned Pen Press through Net Galley.  What a delight to discover a "cozy" mystery author who writes for an intelligent audience!

Our sleuth, Corinna Chapman is a plus-sized, witty baker extraordinaire and former accountant .  Her breads are famous throughout Melbourne.  She is asked to provide the baked goods for a catering company who is catering a television soap opera production set.  Corinna has a detective boyfriend Daniel whose own detective work provides one mystery while the soap set provides another.

I love the setting of Melbourne.  The oppressive summer heat prompts Corinna to close her bakery each year in the heart of summer.  A wind blows intermittently through Melbourne that is just like a mistral.  The only trees that do well are the native Australian trees.  The English settlers there had tried to foist their gardening tastes and styles on the harsh Australian landscape to the peril of the plants.  All very interesting to read about.

Excellent book written by a talented author.  I am looking forward to reading more of Kerry Greenwood's books, both the past 38 and the upcoming ones!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Review: Desert Wind (A Lena Jones Mystery) by Betty Webb

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590589815
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590589816

Book Description

When P.I. Lena Jones’s Pima Indian partner Jimmy Sisiwan is arrested in the remote northern Arizona town of Walapai Flats, Lena closes the Desert Investigations office and rushes to his aid. What she finds is a town up in arms over a new uranium mine located only ten miles from the magnificent Grand Canyon. Jimmy’s sister-in-law, founder of Victims of Uranium Mining, has been murdered, but the opposing side is taken hits, too. Ike Donohue, the mine’s public relations flak, is found shot to death, casting suspicion on Jimmy and his entire family. During Lena’s investigation, she finds not only a community decimated by dangerous mining practices, but a connection to actor John Wayne and the mysterious deaths resulting from the 1953 filming of “The Conqueror.” Gabe Boone, a wrangler on that doomed film, is still alive, but the only person the aged man will confide in is John Wayne’s ghost. It’s up to Lena to penetrate Gabe’s defenses and find out the decades-old tragedy no one in Walapai Flats wants to talk about. By delving into the area’s history, Lena learns that old sins never die; they’re still taking lives. As with “Desert Wives: Polygamy Can Be Murder,” this seventh book in the Lena Jones series exposes real life crimes, and the reason why high-ranking government officials want those crimes to remain under wraps.

About The Author

As a journalist, Betty Webb has interviewed U.S. presidents, astronauts who walked on the moon, and Nobel Prize-winners, as well as the homeless, the dying, and polygamy runaways. The seven Lena Jones mysteries, based on stories she covered as a reporter, include Desert Lost, Desert Noir, and Desert Wives. A long-time book reviewer at Mystery Scene Magazine, Betty is a member of National Federation of Press Women and Mystery Writers of America. You can contact her at .

My Review

The Lena Jones Mystery series by Betty Webb is a first class mystery series and I am thrilled to be able to review the newest addition via Net Galley, Desert Wind, which will be available in February.

Once again Betty Webb brings her rich writing skills to a social issue plaguing the Southwest.  This time Betty exposes the nuclear testing and fallout and consequences.  While the testing occurred in Nevada the winds brought the nuclear fallout to Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.  Cancer and other ailments plague the citizens of this area to this day.

Of course there was also a modern day mystery for our sleuth Lena Jones.  And Lena continues to have flashbacks to her mysterious childhood. 

I cannot recommend this series highly enough.  And I cannot wait until the next Lena Jones adventure.  You can pick up a copy of Desert Wind in February or pre-order a copy today.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Review: Deadly Offer (A Darby Farr Mystery) by Vicki Doudera

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK (April 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738719803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738719801

Book Description

High-stakes real estate and a tangled vine of secrets 

When Darby Farr’s assistant hears that his sister, Selena, has suddenly died in her hottub, they travel to Selena’s magnificent vineyard estate nestled in the heart of southern California wine country. There, Darby discovers that Selena was entertaining offers from three overeager prospective buyers — and Selena’s death was no accident. As a saboteur wreaks havoc on the property, Darby risks her life to crack the case and close the sale in a valley ripe with secrets and dangers.

About The Author

Vicki Doudera is a million-dollar broker with a busy coastal firm handling luxury real estate. She is the author three nonfiction books on real estate and the Darby Farr Mystery Series. Her debut mystery, A House to Die For, was selected to the Best of 2010 list in Suspense Magazine. Her articles have appeared in Parenting, People, Reader’s Digest, Yankee and Down East magazines.

Doudera has been profiled on WCSH-TV’s “207,” and her writing has been favorably reviewed in prominent mystery and book industry magazines, as well as in the Bangor Daily News, Times Record, Kennebec Journal, Lincoln County News and Midcoast Beacon. She belongs to Mystery Writers of America (MWA), and is on the board of Sisters in Crime, New England.

Doudera lives with her family in Camden, Maine, where she enjoys spending time with her friends, kids and funny pets; hiking, cycling and knitting; and living in a beautiful, old house. She is president of her local Habitat for Humanity chapter and is a member of the National Association of Realtors.

My Review
This is the first of Vicki Doudera's Darby Farr Mysteries that I have read. I very pleasantly surprised. Deadly Offer is a well written and well plotted mystery.  It is set in California's wine country that makes it even more appealing. Darby is primarily a realtor however she does manage to stumble across mysteries in her work.  

The author uses her knowledge of the high stakes real estate world to make the story very realistic.  In this story, one of Darby's associates at her agency is dealing with the death of sister and the subsequent sale of her magnificent winery.  Three different parties are vying for the winery and they all have reasons to be looked at when murder is revealed.  Darby is a very likable character as are those around her.  Good writing rounded out this book.

I would highly recommend Deadly Offer and I'm looking forward to reading the two earlier Darby Farr Mysteries.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Review: Ready, Scrap, Shoot (A Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-N-Craft Mystery) by Joanna Campbell Slan

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK (April 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738727474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738727479

Book Description

 For Kiki Lowenstein, only one thing is (marginally) worse than her selfish, hyper-critical mother coming for an extended visit — dodging bullets. In the merry midst of the timehonored May Day celebration at Kiki’s daughter’s private school, a sniper fires shots into the crowd, killing deep-pocketed alum Edwina Fitzgerald. Did someone want to punish the imperious, widely hated matriarch — or was Kiki the intended target all along?

About the Author


Joanna Campbell Slan (Washington, D.C.) is an international authority in the scrapbooking community. She is the author of over ten books on the subject, and her work has appeared in all of the industry's top magazines. In 2004, Slan founded a contest for scrapbookers in the U.K called "The Best of British Scrapbooking," which still runs today. Additionally, Joanna is one of the early Chicken Soup for the Soul authors, and in 2007, she co-founded Sisters in Crime's Forensic University of St. Louis.

My Review

As a fan of mysteries and scrapbooking, I was thrilled to be able to review Ready,Scrap, Shoot from Midnight Ink through Net Galley.  I found the book a little confusing at first but by the middle I was deeply committed to reading and enjoying the book.

Kiki Lowenstein is a realistic heroine and she is surrounded by interesting characters.  And oh my does she have the nastiest mother!  It is a really good cozy mystery with a good story. Recipes and scrapbooking tips complete this cozy.

Ready, Scrap,Shoot publishes in April. Be sure to preorder a copy if you like cozies.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Review: Mobbed: A Regan Reilly Mystery (Regan Reilly Mysteries #17) by Carol Higgins Clark

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439170282
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439170281

Book Description

Regan Reilly Mysteries April 5, 2011
New York Times bestselling author Carol Higgins Clark is a native of New Jersey. So is her sleuth Regan Reilly. In Mobbed, Clark sends Regan “down the shore” where they have both vacationed since childhood. But this trip turns out to be no vacation for Regan!
PI Regan Reilly and her husband, Jack, head of the NYPD Major Case Squad, plan to spend the weekend at the Jersey shore with her parents. Regan’s mother, suspense writer Nora Regan Reilly, will be celebrating her birthday on Saturday. But Regan’s weekend gets off to an early start when she receives a phone call from her mother asking if she’d hop on a train right away.

Regan had just finished delivering bad news to a high school classmate. Hayley Patton is a successful New York City event planner, who had become suspicious that her beau, Scott, was seeing other women and hired Regan to follow him. When Hayley got the lowdown on Scott’s treachery, she vowed revenge with such vehemence that Regan is worried that Hayley might go too far.

About The Author

Carol Higgins Clark is the author of nine previous bestselling Regan Reilly mysteries. She is coauthor, along with her mother, Mary Higgins Clark, of a bestselling holiday mystery series. Also an actress, Carol Higgins Clark studied at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and has recorded several of her mother's works as well as her own novels. She received AudioFile's Earphones Award of Excellence for her reading of Jinxed. She lives in New York City.

My Review

I have read quite a few of the books in the Regan Reilly series by Carol Higgins Clark and they are all good light reads.  Mobbed is a good read as well.  I really enjoyed the story. It moved along quickly and there was plenty of action and suspense. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012